These questions aim to help the class participants in reading and analyzing the required and optional texts. All other questions are welcome.
Class I: Alienated Labor, Value Production and Marx's Alternative
January 29, 2017
1. What are the four types of alienation that Marx discusses in the essay on “Alienated Labor” in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844?
2. Why does Marx say the following in “Alienated Labor”? “Although private property appears to be the basis and cause of alienated labor, it is rather a consequence of the latter”?
3. What does Marx mean in the following statement in “Alienated Labor”? “Even the equality of incomes which Proudhon demands would only change the relation of the present-day worker to his work into a relation of all men to work. Society would then be conceived as an abstract capitalist.”
4. Why does Marx begin Capital with a chapter on “the commodity”?
5. What is the dual character of the commodity?
6. What is the dual character of labor under capitalism?
7. What is the substance of value?
8. What is “socially necessary labor time” and how is it related to the amount of value of a commodity?
9. What is the form of value? How does Marx’s discussion of the form of value respond to Samuel Bailey’s critique of David Ricardo?
10. Why does Marx say that “the fetishism of the world of commodities arises from the peculiar social character of the labor which produces them”?
11. Summarize the four examples that Marx offers after this statement: “The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labor on the basis of commodity production, vanishes therefore as soon as we come to other forms of production.”
12. How is the fourth example, “an association of free human beings,” similar to and different from the other three examples?
13. According to David Harvey’s Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, what are the “foundational contradictions of capitalism”? Compare and contrast these to Marx’s discussion of “alienated labor” in the 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and of “the dual character of labor" in chapter 1 of Capital.